In the seven-and-a-half years I have devoted to children's writing so far, I've received my fair share of unenthusiastic critiques and rejection letters from editors and agents. I can't tell you how many times my hopes have soared as I've crafted another query, attached my sample chapters or picture book, and hit Send, only to plummet back to reality with a reply that begins, "While there's much to admire in your story ...". The words of doom! I have frequently asked myself, "Why the heck are you doing this? Isn't it the definition of insanity to sit in a chair day after day writing stories that no one wants?" I have bemoaned my compulsion to my family who listen sympathetically and murmur words of encouragement, but all the while I've known there isn't a choice. I do this work because I have to - I have children who need the world to hear their stories. I have a motherless girl whose father is about to lose his beloved bakery, and another who is faced with the judgement of Solomon which rests heavily on her narrow shoulders, and another who must rescue her brother from an ancient guardian gone bad. And just lately there's a snooty parrot who has inserted himself into my brain and insists he has a story to tell too. And those are just the novels! My picture books have chickens and lizards and combat-booted fairies. And while I love the act of writing their stories, even those days when the words won't come or the story won't gel or the character has a tantrum and shouts "you'll never understand me," I still need candy as well.
Over the last year I've been rewarded with a surfeit of candy to get me through the challenging times. A great small press is publishing my picture book and I've sold LIZZIE AND THE STOLEN BABY - the story of the girl faced with the judgement of Solomon - to a fantastic editor. And then last week I received the equivalent of a treasure chest full of the finest Belgian chocolate - the artwork you see above. It is the cover of HUNGRY COYOTE, designed and painted by the amazing Laurie Caple. I am a writer, but can find no words to express how full this makes my heart. My coyote is watching me. Intelligence and curiosity shine from his eyes as he waits for me to tell the story of his life. Today he is all the candy I need to spur me on. and tomorrow there will be more of Laurie's glorious art to salivate over. This is the candy that will sustain me through more rejections - and there will be more - and bad reviews and book signings where no one turns up but me. And I hope one day soon there will be the feast of children who will listen to coyote's story.
HUNGRY COYOTE will be published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press and will be available for purchase on May 1st 2015.